Ingrid Deserves a Second Chance
Ingrid Lederhaas provided us with a link to her article posted in the Huffington Post, “As A White-Collar Criminal, All I Want Is A Second Chance”. She tells about how she ended up in prison, and how all she wants is a second chance:
Three years ago, I made a colossal mistake that changed my life forever. I stole merchandise from the company that employed me for over 20 years. The immense remorse I felt (and still feel) is indescribable. My actions not only affected me but my family and my loved ones.
The first thought when someone in your family is arrested, after your concerns for them of course, is whether anyone else knows. Unfortunately for Ingrid her crime was in the news and it affected her family.
My parents were ostracized, my husband lost his job, my brother stopped talking to me and many of my decades-old friends ceased contact altogether. The emotional and financial loss was devastating.
This is a common story that we hear about how people are treated because they have a family member in prison. Raising awareness is so important because as you can see here, the family members did not commit the crime; Ingrid did. She goes on to explain how horrible she felt for the pain she caused her family. This is where the prison family is so important, so they can work through the situation together, support each other, and maintain their humanity and their relationships.
The Spruce, Impact of a Prison Sentence on Marriage, talks about how difficult it is for marriages when one spouse is incarcerated. Dr. James Woodall, in his blog, “Ten reasons why keeping prisoners in touch with their families is so important“, lists key reasons to keep the prison family together:
Humanitarian reasons. A prison sentence means the loss of liberty, not the desolation of family ties.
Prisoner well-being. Visits are important markers for prisoners, often providing a much needed ‘boost’.
Visits from family and friends mitigates against prisoners becoming institutionalised.
Visiting helps family (children especially) to understand what prison is like for their loved one. Often it’s not as bad as they have been imagining and myths are often dispelled.
Prison visits make it more likely that the family remains intact this means that when the prisoner is released he/she is better able to integrate into society.
See previous point – better integration means lower likelihood of re-offending.
Visits allow prisoners, albeit temporarily, to maintain their role as husband/wife/father/mother/son/daughter. It is an important reminder that they are more than ‘a prisoner’.
Maintaining family ties through visits is a cost-effective way to reduce recidivism.
Visits keep families together and potentially prevents family-breakdown.
Visits and the maintenance of family ties can help prevent intergenerational offending.
So after Ingrid served her time she should be allowed to move on and live a productive life, however society does not always allow it. When Ingrid was released she found it difficult to find a job:
…What I found was that, once labeled a felon, my opportunities are extremely limited. After daily rejections from employers, for even the most menial jobs, I lost hope. The Scarlet F is permanent. It’s not something that can be erased or forgotten in our Google-verse. While “Banning the Box” is a nice gesture, in reality a simple search done by all HR recruiters will lead to an abbreviated interview process. Like many others, all I want is a second chance.
Marketplace published an article May 15, 2017: “How Much Does It Cost To Send Someone to Prison?”. The article states that it can cost an average of $31,000 per year, per inmate in the prison system. There is also an informative audio interview with, Charis Kubrin, a Professor of Criminology, that provides more detail about the costs of incarceration to society.
Incarceration is a burden to society and there are alternatives as Ingrid suggests:
I believe in an alternative to prison for first-time nonviolent offenders, allowing them to give back to their community while taking accountability for their crime. I think having these offenders work in multiple jobs to support themselves and repay their restitution, pay taxes, and assume caring for their children and/or parents would alleviate the burden and responsibilities, which are shifted to already struggling members of the offender’s family and possibly, our strained foster and welfare system. The burden incarceration puts on the taxpayer, government and families far outweighs the benefits that could be achieved by putting an offender to work in a supervised environment leveraging their talents. In my case, had I been able to work (in any capacity) and live at home to care for my ailing father, I would have been able to assist my mother before and after his passing instead of being incarcerated in a glorified daycare center. Perhaps we could employ first-time white-collar offenders to teach and tutor students or help rebuild a distressed community. I’m not saying someone convicted of tax fraud should be teaching taxation, but put their other talents to use to contribute to society as well as reinvent themselves for their next phase of life.
These article shed light on how prison affects the whole family and now that Ingrid is back with her family, we hope that she is given the second chance that she deserves.
For information on educational and employment opportunities for felons follow @thewcchandbook.
The original article can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/as-a-white-collar-criminal-all-i-want-is-a-second-chance_us_58e19dd6e4b0ca889ba1a779?04q
Prison the Hidden Sentence thanks Ingrid for sharing her post and we support programs instead of prison for non-violent offenders.
Prison Policy Initiative, https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html provides updated information (2017) about mass incarceration.